Cancer Coalition announces grant recipients

ALBANY -- Three area agencies dedicated to helping those in need have been selected as recipients of this year's Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition Cancer Care Grants.

Spring Creek Health Cooperative, Southwest Georgia Community Action Council and Grady County Help Agencies will each receive $4,000 to help address the needs of cancer patients in their communities.

To date, the coalition has awarded more than $156,000 to community non-profits since the grants were established in 2006. The grants are funded through donations to the coalition.

In addition, the Cancer Coalition will provide $2,000 grants to each of the cancer centers in the region -- Archbold Memorial Hospital, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, South Georgia Medical Center and Tift Regional Medical Center -- to support the centers' patient assistance programs.

Serving Miller, Mitchell and Seminole counties, Spring Creek Health Cooperative (SCHC) is a collaboration of health care providers and community partners working to ensure a healthier population that is less likely to experience chronic disease and its consequences. Its cancer patient program addresses the needs of financially burdened citizens with a cancer diagnosis by helping them obtain their prescription medication.

"This is going to be a tremendous asset for our communities," said SCHC Director Sheila Freeman. "With the number of people unable to afford insurance growing, being able to help those with cancer with their medications is an incredible thing. For those who are already struggling with cancer on top of their finances, this is one thing we will be able to help them with that will hopefully lighten their burden."

The Southwest Georgia Community Action Council (SGCAC) is located in Colquitt County and administers to the needs of residents in the 14 counties. The grant will allow the agency to help low-income families dealing with cancer by providing assistance with rent, mortgage, utilities and medications.

"Many of the clients served by our agency are experiencing financial crisis due to coping with a cancer diagnosis," said Denise Bell, SGCAC community services director. "The increased demand on a family budget due to costs of treatment and medication, and often coupled with lost wages, results in high levels of stress and even risk of homelessness."

Grady County Help Agencies was established as a collaborative effort among churches and service organizations who sought to provide help for needy citizens. The agency's cancer patient program helps their clients by providing counseling, food, clothing and vouchers for utilities, rent, medicine and other needs.

"Our mission is to provide emergency assistance to those in need as efficiently and fairly as possible," said Cindy Johnson, treasurer of the agency's board of directors and also an active volunteer at the help agency. "We do our best to help any Grady County citizen who is having an emergency situation, and having a special fund set aside for cancer clients will increase our ability to help ease that burden for so many more of those affected by the disease."